Witness describes scene inside restaurant during holdup

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A woman identified as Angelic shares her experience when a Phoenix restaurant she was dining at was robbed. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A woman identified as Angelic shares her experience when a Phoenix restaurant she was dining at was robbed. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

It was an ordinary Sunday night in a north Phoenix restaurant until the gunman burst through the front door.

"I remember thinking 'this isn't happening, this isn't real,'" said Angelic, whose last name we agreed to withhold so she would tell us the story of what she saw and what she did that night.

"My attention was taken because of a shotgun going off. Everyone turns and looks and there's a man, a gunman, mask on, ball cap, hoodie, huge shotgun in his hand and he's yelling 'I need everyone's money if nobody wants to die,'" said Angelic.

She was at the restaurant, having dessert with her two young children.

"We got under the table. I immediately dialed 911, and honestly, I was scared to even call," she said.

[Special Section: Empowering you to be safe]

But the information Angelic gave to the 911 operator that night may have played a role in the police responding so quickly.

"I could see him from under the table. I could see him the entire time," she said. "He was walking up and down the aisles, pointing the gun at people and demanding money," she said.

Angelic remained calm, and experts say that is critical if you want to survive an armed robbery like this one.

"The vast majority of robberies, nobody gets hurt," said Kevin Boontjer, a retired Tempe police sergeant. "The people come in. They scream and yell. They get what they want and then they leave the scene. And ultimately, that is the end game you want," he said.

Boontjer teaches people how to react during stressful situations as part of his job with Triple Nine Training. He says the key, most often, is to cooperate.

"This isn't a pride contest. We don't decide who is going to be the toughest or the most macho. You do anything they tell you to do, short of endangering somebody," said Boontjer.

The three common survival options are:

  • Run if you can safely get away
  • Hide if the gunman has not seen you
  • Fight only as a last resort

"The 'fight' should never come into play at all, as long as it stays a robbery," said Boontjer.

Police caught the alleged gunman in north Phoenix later that same night. Nobody was injured in the robbery, but Angelic says the experience changed her.

"There was a moment when it started, when I thought we might not make it out of here," said Angelic.

She has sought counseling for her children and took a course on how to carry a concealed weapon the very next week.

"I don't ever want to feel helpless like that ever again," she said.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award, and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. In October 2016, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School at Purdue University Global. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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